How To Make Your Family Think You’re On Vacation…
Every year, when I go on vacation, I tell my family that I’m not going to write. I’m going to focus entirely on them and relax.
Here’s how the discussion usually goes…
“You’re not going to edit anything?” they ask.
“No,” I say. “I’m not even going to bring my laptop.”
“What about starting a new story?” they ask.
“Nope. I’m not going to start anything new, either. It’s just going to be about you.”
But, they don’t quite understand that writing is not only my job, it’s my passion. I’ve tried explaining to them over and over that getting to write is an escape for me. It even helps me be a better parent. But they don’t get it.
So…I’ve lied. Every time.
Before you get mad, or, like one woman I’ve encountered, tell me I’m going straight to hell. I have spent time with my family on these vacations. We’ve had many memorable days driving through towns, picnicking on the beach, collecting seashells, catching crabs off the dock, movie marathons, and donut shop visits. But what my family’s never realized is that on these trips I’ve either written or worked on something writing-related every day.
Now, I’m betting that by this point you’re staring at your screen in wonder, hoping I’ll share these amazing secrets. Never fear. Here’s my summer gift to all of you.
Steph’s tips for making your family think you’re on vacation, when you’re really not…
Vacation in the place where your current W.I.P. is set. Personally, I thought this was a brilliant plan on my part. I don’t need to be writing all day when I’m camped out in my novel’s setting. Sure it’s tough to do if you’re writing say apocalyptic thrillers, but get creative. Since mine was set in the Outer Banks, I went there. Did my husband and mother raise an eye when I drove them and the kids to the Cape Hatteras High School, Medical Center, Library, and Dancing Turtle Coffeeshop? Maybe a little. “If you’re going to visit a place, you really need to see it through the locals’ eyes,” I said.
- Get up extremely early under the guise of picking seashells or watching the sunrise. No one is awake then, because vacation usually tires everyone out. Even me, which is why I compensated by making a double-strength pot of coffee every morning and falling asleep by ten. This time is usually good for at least a thousand words, unless you, too, are traveling with my mother, and she also
wants to bond with you. Get up early, do what you want until they wake up, and then enjoy. I participated in everything my family wanted. “Don’t you want to get up early, too? The sunrise is gorgeous.” I asked.
- Buy a journal and take it with you. I’m pretty proud of this angle. Yeah, I took a journal, but it wasn’t mine. It was a Character Journal. I wrote it from the POV of my main character. Although I was definitely capturing what happened on vacation, I did it through my main character’s eyes. “This journal is so calming,”I said.
- Make a playlist for your WIP and play it during dinner. This is a surefire way to keep those gears churning all throughout the evening. Pop the cork on a bottle of wine and turn up that Iron Maiden or Civil Twilight or Mozart. Who never got inspired over a little House Of Pain? Just because you aren’t pounding away at the keyboard, it doesn’t mean you can’t drum a new plot twist over some shrimp cocktail, a glass of Chardonnay, and a Bach Fugue. “Let’s listen to some of Mommy’s music,” I said.
- Take pictures of places and people that remind you of your characters. I’m a visual person, so nothing’s better than having something to reference. Not to mention, you’ll end up with some great photos to document your trip. Admittedly, I had a lot of explaining to do when pictures of random cars, people, and dogs showed up in the shared family pics folder, but there’s something to be said for using your own images. When you go home, you can even upload them to Evernote or Pinterest for additional inspiration.
There you have it. My shortlist of ways to keep writing while on vacation. You may call me a workaholic. But let me tell you something I didn’t include above. I did unplug from social media, shut off my email notifications, and just explore.
Though I may have been just a wee bit stealthy about not taking a writing break, I didn’t miss a moment with my family. When I came back to my desk two weeks later, I was refreshed, happy, and bursting with new ideas.
Happy summer, my writing friends. Here’s to sticking your toes in the sand and just exploring.